What will the San Jose Sharks’ line-up look like on opening night?
Here’s a way-too-early guess – consider that we’re still two months away from opening night on Oct. 7. Trades and free agent signings are still possible for the Sharks too.
But right now, the Sharks have a couple of good problems: Too many NHL-caliber forwards and starting goalies.
Let’s start up front.
The San Jose Sharks have 10 established NHL forwards: Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Luke Kunin, Oskar Lindblom, Alexander Barabanov, Nick Bonino, Nico Sturm, and Matt Nieto.
They also have nine younger and/or inexperienced forwards who you can reasonably expect to challenge for an NHL spot: William Eklund, Thomas Bordeleau, Steven Lorentz, Max Veronneau, Noah Gregor, Jasper Weatherby, Scott Reedy, Jonah Gadjovich, and Jeffrey Viel.
Now let’s look between the pipes: It’s well-chronicled that the Sharks have one too many netminders, between Kaapo Kahkonen, James Reimer, and Adin Hill.
That’s the good. The bad news?
The Sharks might have 19 NHL-possible forwards, but they don’t have at least six clear top-six attackers, nor do they have at least nine undisputed top-nine skaters. So what they possess in quantity, they don’t appear to boast in quality.
And their blueline appears to be decimated by the loss of Brent Burns to the Carolina Hurricanes.
They have six NHL-caliber defensemen in Erik Karlsson, Mario Ferraro, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Radim Simek, Matt Benning, and Jaycob Megna.
They have a couple question marks in Nikolai Knyzhov and Markus Nutivaara, both on the comeback trail after missing all or most of the 2021-22 campaign.
Youngsters Ryan Merkley and Santeri Hatakka might also challenge for a place.
Like the Sharks forwards though, they likely lack in high-end quality: Karlsson and Ferraro are the only two defensemen who project to be playoff-caliber top-four defenders. And they may also lack in quantity – if Karlsson goes down with an injury, and/or Knyzhov and Nutivaara can’t come back strong, the Sharks’ defensive corps is in a ton of trouble.
So how will the San Jose Sharks resolve these logjams up front, on the backend, and in the crease? Here’s a first guess.
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